[JURIST] Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin [official profile] said Thursday that the United Nations does not have the authority to compel Serbia on the status of Kosovo, and that the two parties need to reach a negotiated agreement on the territory. Churkin reportedly told the UN Security Council [official website] that he does not think the "international community has legal, political or moral ground to force Serbia into a solution on the issue," during a closed meeting of the Security Council. Serbia insists that Kosovo is still legally part of Serbia [BBC report] under the UN Security Council Resolution 1244 [text, PDF], but leaders of Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority see independence as their only legitimate option [BBC report].
The United Nations has governed Kosovo since North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) [official website] forces drove the Serbian military out of Kosovo in 1999 [Wikipedia backgrounder]. UN-sponsored talks over a Kosovo solution including representatives from US, Russia, UK, France, Germany and Italy began in February [IHT report]. The talks have stalled at various junctures, but UN representatives hope they will conclude successfully by the end of the year. Council diplomats have said that an imposed solution may be necessary if the two sides cannot negotiate their own deal. Reuters has more. B92 has local coverage.